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What are new House Speaker Mike Johnson's record and views on abortion?

Mike Johnson faces questions over 2020 election
New House Speaker Mike Johnson faces questions over efforts to overturn 2020 election 02:19

House Republicans on Wednesday chose the previously little-known conservative Rep. Mike Johnson to be the next speaker on Thursday, and Democrats were quick to push forward with attack ads on Johnson's record on abortion. 

In January 2022, the congressman from Louisiana said "a child in the womb" is a "unique human being with unique DNA" from the moment of conception. He called for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade long before the justices issued their decision in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization in June 2022

Since then, Democrats have run on Republicans' opposition to abortion rights, a strategy that helped stave off what had been predicted as a red wave in the 2022 midterm elections. 

Ahead of Wednesday's speakership vote, House Judiciary Democrats posted a video on X of Johnson saying Roe v. Wade "gave constitutional cover to the elected killing of unborn children in America, period. You think about the implications of that on the economy. We're all struggling here to cover the bases of social security and medicare and medicaid and all the rest. If we had all those able bodied workers in the economy, we wouldn't be going upside down and toppling over like this." 

Newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson delivers remarks with fellow Republicans on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 25, 2023.
Newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson delivers remarks with fellow Republicans on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 25, 2023. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Johnson is a constitutional lawyer and he served on the House Judiciary Committee prior to becoming speaker. As House speaker, he controls whether any legislation dealing with abortion will see the floor. His views are also important given the division within the GOP on the issue. 

"Abortion takes a baby's life — a person — made in God's image," he tweeted in Jan. 2022 as he expressed his hope that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade. 

CBS News has reached out to Johnson's office for comment. 

In 2005, Johnson wrote an op-ed for a newspaper in his home state of Louisiana that compared the judicial philosophy that legalized the right to an abortion to Hitler's and called abortion "a holocaust." The op-ed came in response to the death of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman whose vegetative state triggered a long legal battle and federal action from Congress.

In the opinion piece published by the Shreveport Times, Johnson wrote, "The prevailing judicial philosophy is no different than Hitler's. Because the life of an unborn child (or a disabled Terri Shiavo [sic], or the elderly and infirm) may be difficult or inconvenient or even costly to society now means it can be terminated."

Earlier this year, Johnson co-sponsored a bill that sought to declare "that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual comes into being."

As a staunch abortion opponent he has also put forth multiple other pieces of legislation seeking to restrict the procedure, including co-sponsoring a bill to defund Planned Parenthood

In February, Johnson introduced a bill that would make it illegal for minors to be transported across state lines to get an abortion "without satisfying parental involvement law." That legislation also sought to allow a parent to take civil action against anyone who does transport their child to receive an abortion unless the parent was involved in an incestual relationship with the minor. 

Last year, he proposed the Unborn Child Support Act, which would allow expecting mothers to collect child support payments while they are pregnant.

Johnson has also championed Lousiana's abortion law, which is a near-total ban and allows physicians to be fined or jailed for performing the procedure. 

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, meanwhile, jumped into the fray on Tuesday saying Johnson has a "long and disastrous record of attacking abortion rights and the full suite of sexual and reproductive health care services."

"House Republicans, including those claiming to be moderates, know exactly what they are doing by electing him as speaker: they are fully embracing extremism and a plan to ban abortion nationwide," Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Fund said in a statement on Tuesday.

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